Kuidas seletada Euroopa Liidu laienemistõrget
EU Membership perspective has been a strong incentive for reform in many European states for decades and it is still so for the numerous Western Balkan countries. However the future of the EU’s widening processes seems dodgy after the immense expansion to the Eastern and Central European countries in 2004 and 2007. The Union has taken considerable steps to make the accession process more credible and transparent but this has also fed fears that the EU is no longer as committed to the enlargement as previously. In addition to these moods, the widening of the Union faces several more challenges, such as the need to address the current Eurozone crisis efficiently and to increase democracy in the Unions’ institutions. The Western Balkans constitutes a region of many countries which have for long been under conflict. Their ethnical and cultural diversity, added to a complicated history, is often a cause of tension. Bilateral disputes with current member states also seem to be nowhere near a solution. The aim of this thesis is to try and find an understanding of why there is a reluctance for widening in the EU. In the beginning of the thesis I hypothesize that deepening of the integration between the member states is a crucial premise for widening. I put this theory to the test by placing it in the context of previous enlargements and deducting, that several EU’s most important reforms have taken place in order to accommodate future enlargements. In order to draw conclusions for the current candidate countries’ EU prospects, I analyze some if the EU’s inner documents to find out whether the Union is willing to and ready to seriously take on the possibility of new members. My findings suggest that there is some confusion amongst the many players of the Union – some institutions, like the Commission, are more committed to the widening processes than others (the Council). In addition there is much caution between the member states’ themselves, some of whom seem weary of previous enlargements and unsure about the future ones. To understand the complications of the candidate countries, I dissect their current position on their way to the EU. I do this by examining their inner political progress and bilateral issues through the Union’s progress reports and enlargement conclusions. I come to the understanding, that even if the EU itself was prepared to take on new members, there are political disputes and perceptions between candidate and member countries which are difficult to overcome. Thus these issues clog up any future accession in the near term.